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Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Forgotten Authors Corner: D M Greenwood


An author not so much forgotten – as mislaid!
By Nicky Slade 

Clerical Errors was the first book in the series.  Between 1990 and 1999 nine of D M (Diane M) Greenwood’s clerical mysteries, featuring Deaconess Theodora Braithwaite, were published. They were well-received, had excellent reviews, and were much enjoyed by readers – so why did the books stop coming?

This is what the blurb on the back of the last book, Foolish Ways, says:

D M Greenwood has worked for fifteen years in the Diocese of Rochester as an ecclesiastical civil servant. Her first degree was in Classics at Oxford and as a mature student she took a second degree in Theology at London University. She has also taught at a number of schools including St Paul’s Girls’ in London. She lives overlooking the Thames in Greenwich with her lurcher bitch. 

The books span a time of turmoil in the Church of England in particular the question of admitting women to the priesthood which crops up in several of the books. Of course, the die is cast now and women priests have been part of the furniture, so to speak for some time, but Theodora has decided that she’s content to remain a deaconess. She’s an interesting character – a young woman who seems to have no romantic involvement with anyone, male or female and the only member of her family who appears in the books is her great-uncle, a senior cleric. She comes from a long line of clergy and is instantly recognised by name in clerical circles as the daughter of a much-loved and respected father who has died too young. 

Her nature is reflective but practical and she accepts obediently the customs and quirks of her profession and goes wherever she is sent, which means that the books are set in a variety of locations, from a cathedral close where someone finds a severed head in the font to a Norfolk village with a crazed incumbent, among others and finally to a weekend conference for the clergy set in a bleak, out of season holiday camp where a man who was apparently liked by everyone unaccountably turns up dead. 

D M Greenwood writes with great affection about the Church of England and its lower ranks but her scalpel is reserved for the great and good, the senior clergy whose incompetence she chronicles with a tart and unerring wit. The author writes with passion about the wide range of extremely serious topics that feature in the books, but the writing is so skilled that the reader is engaged and swept along by discussions on subjects most of us rarely consider D M Greenwood writes with great affection about the Church of England and its lower ranks but her scalpel is reserved for the great and good, the senior clergy whose incompetence she chronicles with a tart and unerring wit. The author writes with passion about the wide range of extremely serious topics that feature in the books, but the writing is so skilled that the reader is engaged and swept along by discussions on subjects most of us rarely consider.

My own contemporary cosy mysteries feature Harriet Quigley, a retired headmistress and her sidekick, cousin and best friend, the Reverend Sam Hathaway, an honorary canon of Winchester Cathedral so I’m a sucker for a clerical mystery! I had read all the books much about the time they were published but recently I decided I’d like to read them again, so I now have the whole set. Re-reading them, I enjoyed them so much that I started to wonder why she stopped writing about Theodora. I poked around on the internet, afraid that the simplest explanation would be that she had sadly died, but it seems that’s not the case. Apparently she’s somewhere in her early seventies and a few years ago was reported as ‘working on her tenth Theodora Braithwaite mystery’.

I couldn’t find any other information about D M Greenwood and to be honest, I started to feel as though I might be stalking a woman who clearly cherishes her privacy! Mind you, it would be great if she did venture out of retirement because I know very well that I’m not the only reader who would love to read that ‘tenth Theodora Braithwaite mystery’.

The good news is that D. M. Greenwood’s Theodora Braithwaite novels are now available as eBooks. Also, when I re-read them recently, I was much taken with the idea that Theo – who is 6’1” – should be played in television series by Miranda Hart who would be perfect! 


Nicola Slade
 
(1943-2020) was brought up in Poole, Dorset. She wrote children’s stories when her three children were growing up. Winning a story competition in Family Circle galvanised her into writing seriously. Scuba Dancin, a romantic comedy was her first published novel. A series of Victorian mysteries followed: Murder Most Welcome was published by Robert Hale Ltd, 2008, featuring Charlotte Richmond, a young widow in the 1850s. Charlotte also features in the second of the series: Death is the Cure, (Robert Hale Ltd, 2009). The third of Charlotte's adventures, The Dead Queen's Garden, was published in December 2013. Murder Fortissimo, came out January 2011. This is a contemporary 'cosy' crime novel, featuring former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, and her sidekick and cousin, Rev Sam Hathaway. A Crowded Coffin', is the second adventure for Harriet and Sam.

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